In the early 1980s a few enthusiasts sharing a common interest in photography came together to form the town’s first modern day photographic club. There is a possibility that an earlier photographic club existed many decades ago but the possibility has yet to be confirmed. The initial meeting was held in the Leinster Arms Hotel and was attended by Pat O’Rourke, Gerry Lynch, ‘Bargie’ Robinson, Kieran Brown, Mary MacKenna, David Anderson, and the late Malachy Cardiff.
After almost thirty years the photographic club is still active and holds meetings on the first and third Tuesday of every month in the Woodstock Community Centre. Over the years its members, past and present, have recorded a veritable treasure trove of images of Athy people, places and events, bringing life to the ever evolving story of our town.
Several years ago the photographic club members participated, as indeed did members of the general public, in a photographic survey of the town over a seven day period. That project resulted in the compilation of a unique collection of photographs and videos of everyday life in South Kildare, the importance of which will become more evident as the years progress.
Individual members of the photographic club have proven themselves first class photographic social historians, recording as they do on a regular basis the comings and goings of our local community at both work and play. The club has encouraged its members to do this pioneering work and by dint of its various workshops, organised for beginners and more experienced photographers alike, has made a major contribution to recording the life of our community. This will undoubtedly prove of immense value to future students of our local history.
Athy’s Photographic Club is a member of the Irish Photographic Federation which is one of the most prestigious photographic societies in this country. Club Chairman, Noel Kelly, this year entered a panel of portraits in the National Competition organised by the Federation and was awarded a distinction. His was the first such national award granted to an Athy Photographic Club member.
The Vice-Chairman of the local club is Paddy Joe Ryan of Gouleyduff whose unique photographs of Irish wildlife display a professionalism which belies his amateur status. Secretary of the Club is Con Doyle, while the purse strings are controlled by Pat Fleming. Peadar Doogue, who for many years has been photographing Athy and its people, is the club’s public relations officer.
Each year the club organises an annual photographic exhibition which this year opens in the Heritage Centre in the Town Hall on Friday 10th October at 8.00 p.m. Admission to the exhibition is free and on the same night the Club’s Annual Photographic Calendar will be launched. This I believe will be the ninth year of the Club’s calendar which has found an appreciative audience not only here in Athy, but understandably wherever Athy people are to be found abroad. This year’s calendar, again devoted to images of Athy, is dedicated to former club member Terence Farrell who at 39 years of age died earlier this year. Terence was a loyal and dedicated member of the Photographic Club and the Club members in honour of his memory agreed to pass on the profits from the sale of the calendar to St. Brigid’s Hospice in the Curragh.
Friday 10th October at 8.00 p.m. will see the launch of this year’s photographic exhibition and the launch of the Photographic Calendar for 2015. Do come along to the Heritage Centre and support one of Athy’s most active groups whose contribution to the cultural heritage of our town deserves to be recognised and acknowledged.